SYDNEY: Swimming Australia has started discussions about a replacement domestic or virtual international competition for its athletes in case the Tokyo Olympics are cancelled, president Kieren Perkins said.
Organisers were forced to reiterate their commitment to holding the Games in July and August after a report on Friday said Japan’s government had privately concluded the Games would have to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perkins, who won gold medals at the 1992 and 1996 Games, was delighted that Friday’s “little moment of panic” had been firmly quashed but felt he owed it to Australia’s swimmers to put a contingency plan in place.
“If the worst happens and Tokyo is cancelled, for our athletes who have had the opportunity to prepare and work so hard for so long to get to this moment, I think it behoves us to give them the best chance to at least test themselves and see what that work has created,” he told the Australian newspaper.
“We are preparing on the basis that this is happening so our swimmers will be ready, our trials are going ahead. If the Games themselves are cancelled, what can we do to take advantage of the fact that our athletes are ready?
“It is an open question … whether we run our own meet or maybe we could do a virtual meet with some of our major competition. It is an open question mark at the moment, but we will prepare and have alternate plans.”
Twice Olympic sprint relay champion Cate Campbell told the paper she thought it was a “wonderful idea”, even if she desperately wanted to swim at her fourth Olympics in Tokyo.
“I think one of the benefits of having an ex-athlete as our current president is that he thinks of things like that,” said the 28-year-old.
“Will it be the same? Absolutely not. But it is something worth exploring and asking athletes if it is something they would like to do, absolutely.”